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Garth SundemRSS Feed of this column.

Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »

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Last night at two in the morning I woke to find someone had grafted a zombie arm to my left shoulder. I commanded it to move—no response. I jabbed it with my right hand—no response. I threw it against the wall—no response. Would this limb remain forever zombific? Medical literature is conflicted.

The current guidelines for tourniquet use suggest a one-hour maximum for restricted blood flow to upper extremities and a two-hour maximum for lower extremities, but also admit that the onset and degree of tissue death (necrosis) varies according to patient age and physical condition. Past these thresholds, restricted blood flow can result in nerve damage. (The tingling you feel is your nerves’ way of expressing angst—a call to roll over before they get really pissed.)
Today, of all days, anything is possible. The laws of man and god are subverted by that of Murphy. This day is made doubly potent by its placement before the geek's darkest day of the year: Valentine's Day. And during this day on which anything that can go wrong will go wrong, it seems that even the cold truth of mathematics itself has failed. Specifically, two equals one. Damn. You shoulda been more consistent with the salt, garlic and Haitian door totems.
What do men want?

Biology’s simple answer is that men want to survive to pass on their genes. But when you throw this goal into a complex society of competing men, discerning women and morality, biology gets confused.

For better or for worse, behavioral economics has the answers.
Throughout history, scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and PhD students lacking funding for actual research have turned to the thought experiment in hopes of discovering something publishable, thereby retaining tenure and/or attracting the admiration of comely undergraduates.



The best thought experiments throw light into dark corners of the universe and also provide other scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and destitute PhD students a way to kill time while waiting for the bus.



Below is a classic thought experiment, pillaged from my book The Geeks' Guide to World Domination (Be Afraid, Beautiful People). I'll post a new thought experiment each day this week.
Throughout history, scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and PhD students lacking funding for actual research have turned to the thought experiment in hopes of discovering something publishable, thereby retaining tenure and/or attracting the admiration of comely undergraduates. The best thought experiments throw light into dark corners of the universe and also provide other scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and destitute Phd students a way to kill time while waiting for the bus. Below is a classic thought experiment, pillaged from my book The Geeks' Guide to World Domination (Be Afraid, Beautiful People). I'll post a new thought experiment each day this week.

The Chinese Room
Throughout history, scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and Phd students lacking funding for actual research have turned to the thought experiment in hopes of discovering something publishable, thereby retaining tenure and/or attracting the admiration of comely undergraduates. The best thought experiments throw light into dark corners of the universe and also provide other scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and destitute Phd students a way to kill time while waiting for the bus. Below is a classic thought experiment, pillaged from my book The Geeks' Guide to World Domination (Be Afraid, Beautiful People). I'll post a new thought experiment each day this week.

Schrödinger’s Cat